The last decade witnessed the emergence and acceptance of Fly-by-Wire technology for advanced flight control systems. The benefits of fiber-optic technology such as low EMI susceptability, lower aircraft system weight, and lower life cycle cost may substitute Fly-by-Light technology as the accepted state-of-the-art in this decade. This paper addresses the motivation for moving toward Fly-by-Light technology and technology needs for implementation of Fly-by-Light with particular emphasis on the sensors. The paper examines the impact of increased intensity levels of man-made threats (EMI, EMP and nuclear radiation) coupled with the extensive utilization of non-conductive fuselage materials. A baseline Fly-by-Light control system highlights the key system elements of sensors, effectors, and communication which require development for fiber optics to be used. With the ongoing development of fiber-optic communication technology by the telecommunication industry, the responsibility has fallen to the controls industry to provide the generic technology development for the sensing and effector requirements. United Technologies Corporation and in particular its Hamilton Standard and Research Divisions have been developing effector and sensor technology and have applied the results of these efforts to the U.S. Navy Linear Optical Transducer and the U.S. Army Rotary Optical Transducer programs. The linear transducer is a 12-bit, 3.5-inch stroke device. The rotary is a 10-bit, 40 degrees-of-travel unit.
Edward V. Fox,
"Fly-By-Light Sensors", Proc. SPIE 0355, Fiber Optics: Short-Haul and Long-Haul Measurements and Applications I, (22 March 1983); doi: 10.1117/12.934021; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.934021